Something important . . . (episode 48)


November 22 1998

401B Concrete Shacks

Hello Auntie

Thank you for congratulating me on my efforts to make a new life for myself. I think any transformation of my self – and lifestyle – will take quite some time!

I did put my name forward as one who hoped to occupy the vacant position as Wortlewell town councillor. And, miraculously, I was the only one to do so. I even honestly stated that I was an active member of the British Indigent Workers Party! I am not sure this has gone down any too well with my new colleagues on the town council, but I am now a legitimate co-optee.

My first assignment has been to attend a meeting of the planning committee. And the subject under discussion was a row which has developed about the naming of a street (cul de sac actually) near the brick factory. It transpired that the property developer has wanted to call this stretch ‘Blossom Drive’ – having actually planted some flowering trees in a row along the pavement. However, the council has objected, on the grounds that there is no such species of tree known as a ‘Blossom.’ (How pedantic Auntie. I ask you.) Their suggestion to the developer was that they called the street, ‘Brick Close . . .’ The developer’s response to this, was that a street with a name such as this would be dull beyond comparison! Well, I expect you can imagine whose side I was on Auntie and it took quite some effort on my part, to restrain outright laughter! We did – eventually – agree that a compromise might be to call the street, ‘Cherry Blossom Drive’ and there the matter has rested.

I found the whole thing most taxing, I must say, and it is only the thought of the forthcoming (small) remuneration for my services, that is preventing me from jacking the whole thing in (already). In fact, I did go straight back to Concrete Shacks, rip the lid off a new tin of ‘Glustik’ and inhale deeply . . . I am a little worried about this Auntie, as my health does seem rather precariously perched at present, and – for one who is only 24 years old – my world seems to have become grey, and black, and white. How, I wonder, have I reached this point? I have gazed long and hard at the furniture I am ensconced upon and see that it is worn and greasy. I have gazed, also, at the forbidding pile of dirty plates which mound upon the draining board. It is hard to see a way through, or up.

Living at Concrete Shacks – with its attendant social issues – is not helping. The other day, while gazing over the balcony of my flat on to the car park below, I saw a group of youths kicking a football at the cars. The noise, and shouting, grew louder and I do admit that I grew shorter, in my attempts to gradually lower my head beneath this vista. Eventually, the police turned up in a single squad car. But the youths turned their anger on to the unfortunate cops and started to pelt even the police car with coins. I heard them radio for assistance Auntie, as who knows what destruction could otherwise have ensued.

I feel that there has been a ghettoization of the poor who, even in a democracy, feel at the mercy of the state. And this feeling that opportunity lies elsewhere, seems (in all societies) to turn into the anger and ugliness of the mass. I read the other day Auntie, that the richest one per cent in our society control nearly forty per cent of the economy – and that much more money is lost to the state by tax avoidance than it is ever lost by the so-called benefit cheats!

But here is where the point of writing comes in. For what is the point of writing if one doesn’t ever try to say something important?

Your loving nephew



2 thoughts on “Something important . . . (episode 48)

  1. josna

    How did I miss this–it came out over a week ago! I must be slipping, for I await each new episode with bated breath! And this one did not disappoint. I love Ralph, and am rooting for him (as they/we say in the States). I hadn’t realized how young he was–only 24! I can imagine him in that ridiculous planning committee meeting trying not to explode (with irritation or laughter or both). And he’s absolutely right about the whole point of writing, which shows not only in his timely observation about the deep frustration if the poor in our increasingly stratified societies but also in the deep humanity of all his reflections.

  2. Pingback: 291. Stone Root Lane | Tell Me Another

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